Wi-Fi Security: Attack and Defense

Originally appeared in 2600 Magazine issue 30:4

This article seeks to examine the current state of Wi-Fi security, with a practical emphasis on attack and defense methodology. The proliferation of mobile devices, decreasing cost of deployment, increasing speed, and overall convenience, likely all play huge roles in the snowballing popularity of wireless networking. These benefits do not come without drawbacks, however; it seems convenience and security are inversely related. As we gain one, we lose the other. Wi-Fi security has matured significantly since its birth around the turn of the millennium, starting with open networks and WEP encryption. With insecure networks declining along with the ratification of WPA2 in 2004, it would seem we are moving toward a more secure wireless world. Experience, however, tells a different story.

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The Heart of a Hacker

This article originally appeared in issue 29:1 of 2600 Magazine’s The Hacker Perspective column.

The Jargon File provides several widely accepted definitions for the term hacker, the one of which I find most suitable is “one who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.”1Countless others define hackerdom in terms of personality types, temperaments, tendencies and habits generally associated with computer enthusiasts. These definitions serve us well on a superficial level; however, I seek to define hackerdom in terms of something much more broad and encompassing. I aim to reveal something I don’t believe anyone has before: the heart of a hacker. Maybe we haven’t done this because we find comfort behind veils of secrecy and anonymity; today, I’ll do what hackers do best: fly in the face of established norms.

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